November 5, 2001

Candidates Prepare For 4th Ward Race

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Peter Mack ’03

Growing up in New Haven, Conn., 4th Ward candidate Peter Mack ’03 was exposed early on to the “tug between town and university.”

Only minutes away from Yale University, Mack grew up in an environment that he believes is “so much like Ithaca. It is similar in that the university helps drive the city economically, and it has a unique culture.” As a result of his experience growing up in New Haven, he said he believes he is able to address the difficult task of representing both students and permanent residents of Collegetown.

Mack teamed up with running-mate Jane Spielholz a few months ago. Spielholz currently occupies the position of 4th Ward Alderman. She was put into contact with Mack after members of the Panhellenic and Interfraternity Council informed her that he had been inquiring about the position.

Mack first became interested in representing the 4th Ward when he learned that Josh Glasstetter ’01 had resigned, which Mack saw as a “great opportunity to put aside [his] Cornell activities and redirect them to Ithaca.”

He also notes that he has always been “very involved in community issues,” both in New Haven and in Ithaca. When he learned that Jamison Moore had entered the race unopposed, he began to take the idea more seriously. He began researching the position and was put into contact with the East Hill Unity Party, an independent party.

Both Mack and Spielholz have traditionally voted for the Democratic Party, but Mack decided to join an independent party because, “I want to be driven by the issues and the facts behind the issues. I want to hang a star on my own chest.”

According to Mack, the East Hill Unity Party feels strongly about bringing students and residents together and “bridging the gap” between them.

One of Mack’s biggest concerns about Collegetown, specifically, is the quality of housing. He said that many students are being taken advantage of and are being charged unfair prices for rent. He noted that Ithaca already has housing quality mandates, but that “too often the ceiling is falling in and the carpet is falling apart,” proposing that more ordinances be created and stricter standards applied.

He also said he feels strongly about “livable wages.” Saturday morning he participated in the Parade for a Living Wage for Paraprofessionals and All Working People on the Commons. There, Mack said he was able to see “all these different people working together for a cause from all walks of life,” adding that the “smile on [his] face from that morning has been getting me through these last few days of campaigning.”

One existing program that Mack would like to see grow is the Collegetown Neighborhood Council. He believes that this venue fosters communication between residents and students and can have a positive impact on the future changes in Collegetown, noting that Cornell and Ithaca currently have a good relationship that should be maintained and encouraged.

Mack is aware of the challenges that face him as a student running for a position on the Common Council. In his opinion, the biggest challenge for him in this campaign is to show that he that he is “dedicated, show … previous involvement in Cornell and convey that [he is] going to take all [his] energy from The Hill and use it in Ithaca.”

He also noted that “one thing that has been both satisfying and challenging is seeing students get involved in local politics.”

Additionally, he said he is aware of the concern some permanent Collegetown residents have expressed regarding whether a student cannot adequately represent them. “As a resident of New Haven for 18 years, I would have been shocked to learn that a student was running for City Council,” he admitted.

However, now that he is a student himself, he said he feels he can successfully find a balance between the wishes of the residents and students. “One of the reasons I want to see myself on Council is because I know I can grasp the issues, as opposed to being pushed into decisions,” Mack said.

Mack explained he will be able to handle the heavy load of full-time student and Alderman by taking some energy away from his Cornell activities. He a member of the Psi Upsilon Fraternity, where he served as steward and historian. Additionally, he is treasurer of the Cornell water polo team, and has been a volunteer at St. Raphael’s Hospital in New Haven for three years. He has also served as the director of University and community relations for the Interfraternity Council and on the Board of Directors for the Student Management Corporation.

Mack added that his involvement in Psi Upsilon has provided him with an experience to “work with and manage people.”

When not campaigning or studying, Mack enjoys spending time in Collegetown. His favorite place to go is “Collegetown Bagels on a nice day.” He also enjoys going to The Farmers Market and Cast Park in his free time. Mack also likes to take time to enjoy two of his favorite activities — cooking and playing the guitar.

Mack said that his true role models are his brothers. He really looks up to his older brother Billy, who, Mack says, “works very hard to put himself through medical school.”

After graduating from Cornell, he is not sure what his plans will be but he knows “that Ithaca is in his future.”

“I hope to stay there for a long time,” he said. Whether he wins or loses this election, Mack said he hopes the lesson he can ultimately walk away with is that “extremely, extremely, extremely hard work pays off.”

Jamison Moore ’04

As the Democratic candidate for 4th ward representative to Common Council, Jamison Moore ’04 has been keeping busy during the past month campaigning, speaking to potential voters and getting the word out about important issues.

Growing up in Venice, Calif., Moore was first exposed to politics when he attended an openly liberal private school in the 8th and 9th grades and his interest in politics intensified upon arriving at Cornell.

“When I came to Cornell, I was sort of immersed in a very activist community,” he said, citing his involvement with the Cornell Democrats and in various campaigns in Pennsylvania. “What got me started was talking to voters and seeing what on-the-ground, grass roots politics was all about, and after that I was sort of bitten by the bug.”

On campus last year, Moore also worked for Hillary Clinton and Al Gore’s campaigns.

Two of the political figures by whom he said he has been most inspired are Bill Clinton and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.) About the former, Moore noted, “I felt that Bill Clinton really cared about the people and really looked out for their interests and was very personable.”

“I think that there was so much in the Clinton administration that really shaped how people feel. … Students have become much more aware of politics and I hope that will continue,” he added.

Moore emphasized that although his generation has become much more involved in the political process, much more can be done. “Our generation was heavily influenced when we started paying attention in the ’92 election between Clinton and Bush, when MTV started ‘Rock the Vote,’ its effort to get young people to start voting,” he said. “If students were seen as a strong political group then politicians would talk about what is of interest to students.”

In the last presidential election, Moore noted, the reason the candidates mostly talked about issues relating to the upper middle class and the elderly was because these groups vote in much stronger numbers than students. “If we make our voice heard, politicians will start speaking to us,” he said.

For the past month, Moore has been knocking on doors and talking to residents, pointing to the fact that many people were unaware of his candidacy. “Most people don’t know
there’s an election and it’s been a good opportunity to increase awareness, to let people know who’s running and what the issues are,” he said. “There’s a lot of problems in the 4th ward and people don’t really know how to address them. There’s a big gap between what people think is happening and what they want to happen. It’s very tough to get the word out.”

He also acknowledged the importance of communication between residents and their representatives. “There must be an attempt by the representative to reach out to the community. People don’t know that if they have a problem with their landlord they can call their representative, that if their building is falling down that’s not OK, that is a problem,” he said.

Allegations about the unavailability of the last 4th ward representative, Josh Glasstetter ’01, has prompted Moore and other candidates to propose having “office hours” in order to be more accessible to their constituents. Communication, according to Moore, is key to solving a lot of the problems of the ward. “The community as a whole can solve a lot of the community’s problems,” he said, adding that he wants to work on “letting people know what’s going on” through campus and community groups.

While having to cut back on several school activities during the campaign, Moore talked about what he has gained from all of his experiences on campus. “I have learned that though things may appear to be going relatively OK here on campus, there is actually a lot that’s going on that people don’t know about and that people aren’t happy with,” he said.

Of these, Moore spoke about what he sees as a lack of resources for multicultural studies and for the general promotion of diversity at the University: “We should just not say ‘Open Hearts, Open Doors, Open Minds’ but actually enforce it and actually try to promote diversity. I think that the administration can do a lot more and I hope that they will.”

A conscious effort to increase the number of faculty and courses offered should be made, Moore said, pointing to the possible idea of including another multicultural living center in the plans for West Campus housing.

Moore added, “I have learned that students have a lot of power, and I have also learned there are a lot of good things on campus. There is a lot of communication between students and the administration. Students do have a voice, and I hope that voice can become even stronger.”

In his free time, Moore enjoys going to Stella’s for its “nice atmosphere” or to the Ithaca Commons. “Ithaca is great for cultural events. I like to try new things, like try out different restaurants or go to new stores,” he said.

While he is undecided about his plans after graduation, he noted, “I’ve not thought about continued public service. This is not a stepping stone.”

In general, the biggest challenge currently facing lawmakers, according to Moore, involves reacting to the attacks of Sept. 11th. “Right now the biggest challenge is to deal with big change; we’re facing a recession, and there’s emotional issues,” he said. “Government must keep going, even though the lights are out, meaning that no one’s sure what is next, but it’s a great opportunity for change.”

Archived article by Diane Plavecski